I am not a PC

(but this commercial is brilliant)

There has been plenty of discussion regarding the new “I’m a PC” ad campaign by Microsoft. Some dig, some hate, and apparently portions were made on a mac. At the risk of going overboard, this ad might be best piece of media to come out of Redmond since this gem.

Own Your Brand

Sure, PC technically means “Personal Computer”, but the public perception of the term has become our reality. It is now more closely associated with Windows based computers. Like it or not, the tech media has reenforced usage of the term, more so when Apple started slinging the moniker as a negative. Why should Microsoft idly stand by and let others define the term being used to describe their brand? They shouldn’t!

Protecting an existing brand is a difficult task, often utilizing marketing dollars that won’t have a great ROI. As an example, the car manufacturer Infiniti buys Google Ads for it’s own brand name and for each of it’s car models. Search for “Infiniti” right now, and you’ll see an ad directly above the organic link to infiniti.com. The company doesn’t need to drive traffic to their site via these ads, instead they are protecting their brand by not allowing competitors or dealers to rank higher in search results.

Microsoft dropped the ball a long time ago when they allowed others to represent them in media (that includes the recent Apple ads, but also every PC manufacturer that simply tags the MS logo onto the end of their commercials). Starbucks owns coffee, FedEx owns overnight shipping, and McDonalds owns fast food. It takes millions of dollars and years of effort to own a simple, concise term and by all logic, Microsoft should own PC. So I declare these new “I’m a PC” ads brilliant; because Microsoft is finally attempting to own a word the public already associated with them.

Overcoming Negative Association

For the past few decades, Microsoft owned a negative brand. They were the multibillion dollar giant fighting the government in antitrust law suits, Bill Gates was villainized, and Windows did nothing but blue screen. Most recently, the concept of being a “PC” was painted as nerdy, drab and boring. In advertising (as well as political ads), constantly arguing against the mainstream perception is a fruitless endeavor. Ignoring the negative perpetuates it’s truth. To overcoming negative association start with facing the truths those stereotypes were based on, embracing what you can’t change and correcting the flaws. And Microsoft did just that. Windows XP was replaced, lawsuits were settled and Bill Gates happily declares he wears glasses. It’s OK to be nerdy.

Have a Laugh

All these factors add up to the real brilliance of the ad, authentic humor. There is no punchline or inside joke. There is just an innate levity that’s carried across all the characters. You can’t help but smile at the various puns and cheesy jokes.

So well done Microsoft, now keep it up.

* Note, the term brilliant is relative to all previous advertising attempts by Microsoft to build a likable brand. I’m still a loyal Apple user.

 Sep 20, 2008  |